Der sich aufhebende Ursprung
"Nothing can be born or perish, exist in some degree, possess a time, a place, a meaning, a figure—except on this definite stage, which the fates have circumscribed, and which, having separated it from who knows what primordial chaos, as light was separated from darkness on the first day, they have opposed and subordinated to the condition of being seen" (8, 97; Valéry's italics).
For the source to become in turn an image, for it to become engaged in a tropic or fantastic system as well as to appear and to receive, for it to see itself as the glance of the origin, it must divide itself. Wherever the mirror intervenes, each time that Narcissus comes on stage in Valéry's text, the source can be found again as an effect of the mirror only by losing itself twice. The mirror, another unfindable theme (but it propagates itself like a that does not exist), manifests in this double loss the singular operation of a multiplying division which transforms the origin into effect, and the whole into a part. Valéry has recognized that the specular agency, far from constituting the I in its properness, immediately expropriates it in not to halt its march. The imaginary is broken up rather than formed here.13
Glance of the figure; figure of the glance, the source is always divided, carried away outside itself: before the mirror it does not come back to itself, its consciousness is still a kind of unconscious. As soon as it performs Narcissus's turn, it no longer knows itself. It no longer belongs to itself. Narcissus defends himself from death only by living it, whether he distances himself from the "venerable
13. TN. The reference is to Lacan's theory linking the agency he calls the imaginary to the formation of the ego in the mirror stage.