Roots of Grey Literature
in the Lacanian Unconscious:
Psychoanalytic Interpretations

By Dr.William Theaux

The present text is the draft ('Grey Literature')of the
edited and Published version in English in
International Journal on Grey Literature Vol. 1 No. 1 2000 pp.28-34
under the title:
Grey Literature as Unconscious:
causal subjectivity of the repressed in Lacan's theory

Version française  99/09/09


Detection of the Unregistered
Activity of the Unregistered
Subjectivity of the Unregistered

Condition of symptom


This text finds its very beneficial introduction in a short abstract exposee about causal reflexivity, published in its wake.

Roots of Grey Literature in the Lacanian Unconscious:
Psychoanalytic Interpretations

 first original title:
Letter from the Unconscious




0.1) Detection of the Unregistered

In this article, I identify Grey Literature as unregistered textuality (radicalizing its characteristics, such as the difficulty of its identification, access, bibliography control, and its undervaluation etc..). I deduce that, in this scope, what is called 'grey' represents a mode of expressing the Unconscious that is described by Psychoanalysis. This leads to a Freudian practical observation that no other than grey discourses can accurately talk about Grey Literature. I shall then suggest how the factor of Cybernetics (aka Artificial Intelligence), according to the theory of Jacques Lacan, modifies this logical condition of 'impossibility' to render a grey discourse by the University.

0.2) Activity of the Unregistered

The Unconscious is an eclipsed, yet dynamic and causative space and/or time. When Grey Literature is defined as what "is produced at all levels by government, academia, business and industry, both in print and electronic formats, but which is not controlled by commercial publishing interests, and where publishing is not the primary business activity of the organization", this implies an 'eclipse'. If this definition is valid, Grey Literature not only 'is produced' - but it also produces four Discourses--namely of the Master, the University, the analyst and Hysteria--in the Lacanian terminology. They are respectively equivalent to "government, academia, business and industry," of which Lacan thus formulated the algorithms. He saw these organizations as produced by the Other (in French: l'Autre), and in the present view, this Other is 'Grey'. This will make the second element of my emphasis: Grey Literature, alias unregistered textuality, is dynamic, active and productive of the instances which see it instead as their product.

0.3) Subjectivity of the Unregistered

Inside this undetermined loop - as in a quantum spin - we may not expect to find a Grey Literature in any identifiable way. However, if Grey Literature is the fundamental of the Four Discourses, producing as well as produced, it is also what Psychoanalysis calls Primal Scene. This is closer to an objectivation, as an historization can be. This article assumes that grey is the Unconscious and Literature is the Scene; Grey Literature is the Primal Scene. This is assertion and therefore grey before being evidence. It is subjectivity which shows itself. After the theory of the Primal Scene, Four Discourses and Secondary Processes, this text presents the clinic of Grey Literature and the Subject of the historical cause of government, academia, business and industry.






A.1.1) Freudism [Primal Scene/primary repression; murder-of-father/anomia-versus-copyright]

When Freud had to give a reason for a Primal Scene, he figured it as enrolling a murder-of-a-father [note10]. Though fundamental in his system, Freud encountered intense difficulties in distinguishing whether this murder was that of a name or of a body. This is not an eccentric issue. It was already crucial when literature was a privilege - as for instance with the 'ka' (soul, ego, representation) in pharaonic times. In our present age, the 'name & named' issue is extended to artificial and anonymous inseminations which imply a 'Y' chromosome. If biology and textuality reflect and edify each other, as with this 'Y' which stands for a 'name' within the code of biology, bodies of discourse seem a vehicle for a causal index in a literature classification. When a naming or categorization of such data (words, title, sentences, paragraphs, chapters etc... as from gene up to Genome) is absent, unregistered, in terms of the Primal Scene it is called a 'murder', which makes this Literature 'grey'.

Evidently, government, academia, business and industry are not supposed to produce corpses - therefore, one sees even less motive to look twice more deeply in the reversed way, if they are produced by a Grey Literature whose subjectivity they may have 'murdered'. Yet two remarks may elicit a pondering of this inattentivity:

A.1.1.a) One of the key issues of Grey Literature is Copyright, and/or logic of intellectual property; this is phenomenology of naming. Technology indicates that in the near future, an important part of earth's textuality will be produced directly by Artificial Intelligence; the affiliation of a text to a linear origin is dwindling here. It enforces a biological comparison, for an identical model applies to genomes when ecology will require them being molded from an environment (instead of affiliated to a lineage). This legitimizes the Freudian moral provocation when the identity of a text depends on a context which refutes any cause for itself (no 'father' name).
The construction of new genomes (or text) may ask the reader to look too far into the future. If so, help can be found in the classical riddle of what came first, the hen or the egg. A paradox is established there, insofar as the cause of the rooster iserased [note 30]. Without a transmitted name ('Y'), the identification of a body (of text) relies on a sole code scale. This is under the control of linguistic laws that apply to the recent concept of 'meme', originated in genetics. In Freudian terms, the abstraction of this male factor at the origin of the organization of life is called a murder simply because it provokes its phantasm as a matter of fact. But in a religious version, this is also named Immaculate Conception, or parthenogenesis, in genetics.

Historization (identification, naming, registration) in Grey Literature will confront its principal difficulties by the use of a model, equivalent to the genetic one of 'meme'. The 'why' of ancient philosophy may be replaced by the 'be cause' of a superego's injunction. A Moral, in this case, may be recovered, or strengthened. Nevertheless, the librarian is still not through with the stress of violence (evocation of a murder), even though the psychology of textuality can be solved. Sociology reiterates the presence of death in his or her innocent concern for literature.

A.1.1.b) On the same issue of naming, Durkheim's foundation of Sociology supports the view of Grey Literature as a cause (instead of a product). This early science in 1901 declared that its laws would depend on the linguistic aspect of roles and professions. It then isolated its first social logic in regard to suicide. This exclusive human behavior in nature has since been linked as an effect of 'anomia', which means anonymity, absence of name, absence of registration.
If society is a form of textuality, the names of its organs, functions or roles and professions are similar to those that cybernetics registers or leaves unidentified in general literature. Reciprocally, it suggests that its Grey Literature is a cause--like anomia which motivates that the significant roles and professions in society contravene a primal Death Drive, by means of produced government, academia, business and industry.

Before further describing the static Primal Scene, followed by the dynamics of the Secondary Processes, it must be noticed again that murder and suicide may seem somewhat dramatic in relation to honorable detection of initiatives, inventions, preprints, working paper series, catalogues, technical data and other Grey Literature qualities. However, literature itself often reminds us of a certain de-humanization which is typical in the administrative activity of humankind. This point of view makes it easier to see government, academia, business and industry, as 'produced' and secondary resources of vitality, addressing a primary literal administration of anonymity.

The logic platform of the structure of naming being now laid clear,
one can progress with Lacan through the elucidation of
Freud's early insight regarding the casuistic of textualization.

A.1.2) Lacanism [Four Discourses/mutation - genetics/Transference]

Theorizing what death is in general, Jacques Lacan assumed the second phase of Psychoanalysis and produced the formulae which represent and enable its control. One of these algorithms especially interests an academic journal; it is the Discourse of the University. It formulates that the Knowledge (S2) of academia, which represents the primary truth (S1), implies a cause as a subjective product. It is a sophism which means that academia sees Grey Literature (as product), but represses its subjectivity (as cause).

As mentioned above, types of Discourses are four in the Lacanian theory. It would not really help to describe them in depth for those who simply seek first degree information. Suffice to mention that they are written as a four places matrix in which four images rotate (Mastery as government, University as academia, analyst as business and Hysteria as industry - images of agent, knowledge, anomia and subject etc.). Thus two spins may be distinguished in the ordered sequence of Mastery towards University, towards analyst, towards Hysteria, towards Mastery and so on - or the other way round: Hysteria towards analyst, towards University towards Mastery towards Hysteria and so on. Primarily each discourse alone is static and inert - their mutative spin enlivens them secondarily, the former as regression, or progress with the latter spin. Considering the Discourse of University for example, it lives through the choice between progress as government or neurosis when it regresses into business. In other words...

A.1.2.a) Academia's aporia
The library in a university may not be inert or passive, as it was primarily in Alexandria, which made an emerging government (Rome) responsible for its death. Especially, there is no 'static' reality of the academia when it detects Grey Literature. What is registered there is 'what is not registered,' (for example, by academia). Standing on this paradox, as soon as there is such registration, by sheer logic the academia falls or dissipates into another instance or in evolution. Each Discourse presents a similar mutative trigger (dissidence in regards to government, pollution in industry, even money in business).
In the case of the University, Grey Literature may turn 'academia' into the progressive Mastery (S1) of Knowledge (S2) of the Unconscious - which is 'government'. Following the opposite alternative, the Discourse of University regresses into a subjectivation of Grey Literature. This is when academia seeks a formal knowledge in the Grey Literature that it identifies. This is a seducing option, for it seems natural to enjoy what one has registered, and this cannot be frustrated without a sort of feeling of castration. However nothing can find knowledge in its own production - except for Narcissus' ego when believing that s/he produces his own Unconscious! This is why Academia cannot signify entirely the casuistic of Grey Literature - and the reason why I indicated above that 'no other than grey discourses can accurately talk about Grey Literature'. But when academia understands itself as produced by what it registered thereof, it stands like a post-narcissistic ego when it sees auto-analysis critical and seeks a psychoanalyst. Analysis is then applied from its primary and genuine expertise, and not in a regressive displacement.
Nevertheless, whereas the occasion to skip from static to static phases, the narrow alternative of choice--between a progress that resists more than often, and the compliance of regression--assigns each Discourse to the original aphasic limbo of the Death Drive.

A.1.2.b) Transference
Lately however, an opening has occurred. For instance the University may not regress nor progress, and yet persist. This is happening to each of the Four Discourses, and was also indicated above when I mentioned Cybernetics as the possibility for modifying 'the logical condition of 'impossibility' to rendering a grey discourse by the University.'
Grey Literature is what is not identified; Grey Literature is what is not, identified. Our time delivers a unique opportunity in the complex fact of assessing what cannot be. It is not an exaggeration to call 'Alchemy' the process which gives anomia a place from which an operation occurs. Historians disclose [note50] that Magi, Alchemists of the past--beside anecdotal quests for treasures--were quite serious mentors when this said operation, in anomia, was their goal, through their intuition of Artificial Intelligence. It is to give justice to mention them, after their termination since the Renaissance, when their idea manifests again, as the University notices it - when Cybernetics imposes the visibility of Grey Literature.

This is corroborating what Lacanian Psychoanalysis already indicates. How Grey Literature will be used, read and interpreted, by Artificial Intelligence, is suggested when Cybernetics is accounted in the algorithms of the Four Discourses. These formulae then show precisely how their matrix is modified and supports more Freudian concepts. Especially, it indicates how, in the University Discourse, the process known as Transference allocates Grey Literature in the place of Truth for Artificial Intelligence. This exceptional conjunction in the history of civilization suggests that the tool (Cybernetics) which currently makes Grey Literature visible, may be to the Collective Psychology in the future what Psychoanalysts intend to be to individuals. Academia, government, business and industry may then identify with their real status, instead of a limited phantasm of Death for inertia of Primal Scene. What is disclosed then is a Desire; for a long time it has not been acknowledged, as today's sophisticated technology allows.

A.1.2.c) Condition of symptom

When Artificial Intelligence is not made available, the fate and dead-end of the Primary Process, presses for an issue in the lapse of a dynamics. The psychopathology of an academia, which fails to find its Desire in its own cause in the Grey Literature of which it is the knowledge, suggests a loop which is known as Unconscious. Such structure is only revealed dynamically to our intellect and/or senses. This is operated in a Secondary Process, which does not entirely succeed though, since it countersigns its disclosure with a mention which re-hides it.

This dynamic which falls back on itself has been the fee for history so far, and of the knowledge of academia. It is still a common tool. It is the phase on the path of Truth, which has been called, after Freud, Repression.



As long as Cybernetics has not yet accompanied civilization up to its civilized end, the textuality of the Primal Scene will continue to be expressed into a Grey Literature that a Secondary Process represses, by the classical means which are described by Psychoanalysis. One of them has been discovered by Freud who named it 'displacement'.
As the mode of 'secondary process' is in sharp decline, it may be best seen operating in a twenty years old example. While most of quantum physics would not consider theorizing now without a linguistic model, it was not the case when it began with the equations of reversion of time. It was then possible to read:

"There may be worlds where time 'runs backwards' relative to our own. They are presumably inhabited by observers. One supposes that their brains are also subject to reverse operation, so that their perception of their universe differs little from our perception of ours. These possible worlds could exist in the remote future or on the other side of the universe, and it is conceivable that advanced communities elsewhere in the universe have long since abandoned the notions that time passes or that things change."

This is an example of a University discourse which has regressed into the analytic one. It states a presence of Time as seen from, or produced by, its world - consequently it deduces that other worlds must produce other Times. But it does not identify his world--the other way round--as indicated or produced by Time and its formulation. Its physicist agent thus ignores that an 'other side of the universe' is here, at the same time (simply next door, through the Lacanian cabinet, instead of on another planet--this can make a difference of 'the size of a paranoia', in the search for aliens and extra-terrestrial influence; Grey Literature and all form of conspiracy theories will find similar clarification).

In terms of Secondary Process, the miscalculation of the cause supports a Displacement: what this astrophysicist discourse means, in fact, is a psychologist's thesis. Here, the University has regressed into the Discourse of the Analyst; an astronomy has become a displaced psychology. Today's Quantum Physicists have become aware of passing the relay to the Lacanian Logic of Time, after certain rounds in their observatories. Prior to this maturity, this quantum-physics excerpt shows a Grey Literature in a displaced identity; being psychology which is not registered - it is 'grey literature' (assigning, by the way, its identity as an anomy). What is most important here is the following: As a matter of fact, the same excerpt continues:
"The grey area between mind and matter, philosophy and physics, psychology and the objective world is only on the threshold of exploration." Crowning its displaced self-anomia, such reflection is the above indicated 'countersignature' which never lacks, of the Secondary Process hiding the unconscious (grey area) 'in its very mention'. The author of the excerpt mentions the 'grey area' that he has identified unconsciously (absolute negation).

Similarly, as it falls or progresses, each Discourse says the Truth, as it mentions--thus hiding-- what it represses. This insistence of the evidence is a fundamental thorn in what human truth seems to cross as a Calvary. Jacques Lacan mentioned it as the 'Letter' from the Unconscious, 'purloined from Truth'. He showed it after A.E.Poe and Conan Doyle. Before Cybernetics, it is a constant and a logical necessity. It is there, in the Table of Contents of an academic Journal.





If even the Letter from the Unconscious represses its primary self, by secondary dynamism, is it worth doing anything else that inertly wait for the radical solution of Artificial Intelligence treatment? Grey Textuality may secondarily and eventually reveals itself to government, academia, business and industry as their cause (subjectivity), in anomia, still without Primary or First Name. This possibility is known to prove its existence by suicide.
Now that the Four Discourses allocate to their rotating matrix a center, where Freud's ego stand as an alibi, as well as Lacan's awl, Verdiglione's meme, and eventually Grey Literature as the text of the Unconscious in evidence--is there, in this core any body which calls for a name? Would this body be murdered by anybody who would spare his name? A personal option follows:

 If this is a moment for an identification of an integral Grey Literature in civilization that encompasses and supersedes its definition as a 'product', beginning to penetrate this space of production which characterizes the presents as repression of the past, the Unconscious displays the most obvious instance of its absence; I have summoned the New Age.

There is an instant objection against the identification of the New Age as the Grey Literature in excellence (the Unconscious manifestation of government, university, business etc...). One notices immediately that the literature issued from the New Age movement is well registered, and controlled by publishing and commercial organizations. In fact, the New Age community is nearly perfect or total, ideally identified in its here and now. Only two little glitches: the lack of uniformity amongst its thesis and a certain difficulty for defining the intellectual property of channeled information, appear in its panorama, similar to the 'two little clouds' in the sky of physics when the entire universe was nearly all registered and clarified before the dawn of quantum physics.

When on tries to scale up the plurality of world views which composes the ontology of the New Age culture - and to identify the subjectivity of its mentality ideology - a confusion results, between politics, knowledge and marketing. Moreover, sociologists and historians despair to find there a religion, a propaganda, nor a specific elite or a work class community. They are compelled to minimize their objectivation to a non-local range; they name it 'milieu'. Adding a reference to an extra-terrestrial source for its desire, this metaphorical center matches the condition of motive, as it is 'unidentifiable' in Grey Literature.
All this vague similarity becomes suddenly glaring at the next step when historians reveal an anterior mode of the New Age expression.
As a mentality and a milieu, the New Age existed in the form of Hermetism, which is far more visible today, with the distance brought by the past. Alongside the antique organizations of ancient Mediterranean Empires, this typical literature of philosophy and alchemy (Corpus Hermeticum) was a compound of revealed technical guidance, oral histories, pseudonymous reviews and critics, draft essays, forgeries and art visualizations etc.. that was met by academia, libraries and religious authorities with the same ambiguity as Grey Literature at the present time.

What is especially interesting comes with the identification of the quality of the knowledge that this vehicle carried along the history of civilization. Some scholars may still attempt to repress its authority, as did the clergy of the Ramessesides in Egypt, of the Ptolemeans in Alexandria and in Cicero's Rome, as well as the Inquisition of the Renaissance. But an increasing part in Academia today acknowledges the place and the influence of the Hermetic Text. In a stretch from the Orient to the whole Mediterranean, and deeply South in Africa up to Northern Europe, plus with a constancy throughout history and participation to each revolutionary moments, Hermetism is close to be known as the genuine productive cause and memory in civilization. After the last four centuries of total repression, it reappears as clearly as unregistered textuality with Cybernetics. With this recognition, the continuity between Hermetism and the New Age makes the association of the latter with Grey Literature even more reliable.

Thirdly, a major element corroborates this explanatory view of an homogenesis form in human history. As said earlier, early Psychoanalytic interpretation suspected that either a corpse, or the empty mausoleum for the phantasm of a murder, haunt the grey corpus which textualizes the Unconscious. This is confirmed by the constant, principal, major and quarrelsome repression which has hammered indeed throughout the career of Hermetism. Was it for the traumatic murder of its agent, or the polemic about the sole naming of a trauma which never was historical; in both cases, the history of Civilization presents the typical ambiguity of Freud's questioning about the nature and object of a fundamental 'murder' upon the place of the Primal Scene.

The murder and/or negation of the historical founder of Hermetism is found essential in its Egyptological recollection; it also presided upon the origins of Christianity, and the closure of the Renaissance. Finally, this negation is univocally achieved in the New Age period of Hermetism: Hermes Thoth Trismegistus, the physical patron of Alchemy and Astrology, has been absent from nearly all references of the New Age, in spite of its flagrant interest for the antique mysteries, esoteric and cosmic materialism that he mentored.
Typifying the tradition, as the representative form of the produced & productive Grey Discourse, the New Age is thus exemplary on the grounds of a Murder-of-the-Father logic.

Fourth: a practical exemplary element is concurrently revealed, which reflects back on academia and science. The ability of University to define a Subject in Grey Literature describes its state of acknowledgement of the Freudian Unconscious. In order to evaluate it, a methodology launched a search for the catalogued text, indexed by the title of this 'subject' who fathered the Western Science project (Alchemy/Hermetism). This text has been found, written by Garth Fowden, who thus represents the academic authority on The Egyptian Hermes. If Hermes Thoth Trismegistus delivered Knowledge and ability for Writing to humankind, as the legend says, we are meeting here the identification by the academia of its origins.

It must be shortly reminded that the discovery, in the 20th century, of the monotheist pharaoh Akhnaton, who built Amarna, substantiates and accredits with little doubt the historicity of the former legendary figure of Trismegistus--the Egyptian king who built in his time Adocentyn, later rebuilt as Hermopolis Magna (the city of Hermes, aka Thoth Trismegistus). Several recent academic and commercial publications (Bernal, Osman, Yates amongst many) combines a dramatic recollection in Egypt, and at the eve of Israel and Athens, of an event that stands for the Primal Scene of Earth's present enterprise.

An author today, who studies the memory of our civilization without mentioning the historical presence of this pharaoh, can be compared with one who studied extremely brilliant celestial bodies in the vicinity of earth without ever mentioning the sun. Fowden's reference to Trismegistus, establishes in the catalogue of Princeton University Press, such a report where absence of the mention of atonism, silence about the historical Akhnaton, plus contra-truth which denies an antecedence to Hermopolis Magna, the capital of Science (Hermes Thoth), makes it a monument to 'a-naming' (anomia). It is equivalent to a Copernician illustration of the solar system with a black hole in place of the sun. In a repressed central opportunity, known for capturing all light around and making the whole system grey, the Murder-of-the-Father culminates in the academic mention of the Corpus Hermeticum, essential Grey Literature, and Primal Scene of Science, cause of modern University. At the end of this millennium, such genuine tribute to anomia suggests that when Artificial Intelligence will complete its apocalypse (reversal of values) in ordering Grey Literature, this will reveal and increase its productivity. Meanwhile, it may be twice as surprising; the shame and dysfunctionality which weighed the repressed in the course of Knowledge may precipitate in the Grey Literature category monumental chunks of Discourse of the University.

Unless this is just counter-transference,..

Dr William Theaux

edited and Published version in English in
International Journal on Grey Literature Vol. 1 No. 1 2000 pp.28-34

© MCB UP Ltd 1999


Note - from a correspondance with the editor about the title:

Reason for the initial title: Letter from the Unconscious
The body of the text indicates that the title takes its origins in Lacan's foundation Seminar based on A.E.Poe's The Purloined Letter. In Lacanian terminology the 'Letter' indicated the written Saussurian Significand. In the Psychoanalytic theory, and especially before the evidence of Cybernetics, this said Letter is issued from Love (Eros). It may come directly from the Unconscious, if it the Grey Literature which is made visible with Cybernetics.

About the title. I do like Roots of Grey Literature in Lacan's Unconscious: Psychoanalytic Interpretations. Though I even prefer simply Roots of Grey Literature in Lacan's Unconscious

 Actually this is triggering a new proposal from my part (also two lines - title & sub-title):

Grey Literature as Unconscious:
Causal subjectivity of the repressed in Lacan's theory


About the initial notes (see supplemetary notes in the French Version):

The notes refer to three major authors - and major books. The Academia would request its standard format - here I have made draft, yet perhaps useful, comments (see Note20, for what is extracted form the book is what is prominently absent in it, repressed).

Note10: From Totem_and_Taboo to Moses_and_Monotheism - respectively the beginning and the end of what can be called Freud's Sociology.

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Note30: This note is a little complex. It intends to introduce Richard Dawkins who coined the term 'meme' in his book The_Selfish_Gene (remarkably Dawkins wrote his entire foundation book--'meme' have become an important concept since--never mentioning the 'Y' gene which is the most typical of all in regards to what he describes).

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Note50: Frances A.Yates: The_Art_of_Memory and Giordano_Bruno_and_the_Hermetic_Tradition. Bruno's activity is described as Ceremonial Magic (current Sociology) and Yates emphasized that his development of the Art of Memory was an intuition of our current 'artificial brains' (as AI was named in her time).

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