When we met our friend the Analyst at an early evening party, I told her, 'I keep repeating the same mistake to the point of tears'. She said, 'That’s okay, Lacan says you find yourself in errors, deceits and mistakes'. 'What’s the difference between an error and a mistake?' I asked. 'I don’t know', she said.
J and I talked about this a lot and months later I rang the Analyst to say how true it seemed. She said, 'That’s wrong. I didn’t say that. Lacan would never say something in that way'. So J trawled the internet and found references to errors, deceits and mistakes in that way, plenty of them. I guess our friend meant that M. Lacan wouldn’t talk about the self in that way.
When we decided to call our publication errors deceits mistakes the first edition generated enough easy identification in others to want to contribute, so we wanted to make another. Most of the contributions in the first issue are in English, so we decided to make the second in French. When we asked French acquaintances for the translation of the title many said they didn’t think there was a difference between mistake and error in French. We then realized we needed the original phrase that was translated from the French into English.
We were at the Director’s home for dinner and her partner said he would telephone his Lacanian Analyst friend and settle the query. After a while he returned and said, 'The Analyst was already in bed but came up with a surprising and revealing answer, erreur, mensonge maîtrise'. Apparently it was not mistake but, in fact, to do with control and false face. Master, or mastery, not mistake. We spent the rest of the night talking about it.
All this time I had been emailing my eminent friend the Doctor in London. He hadn’t replied so I sent him the translation. 'No, he replied, maîtrise is not right. It’s in Seminar One and I’ll have to look it up'. He’s a busy guy. So I ask my friend the Analyst again and she’s getting a bit tetchy by this time, 'I dunno ask the Doctor', she says.
The Director then tells us they are very sorry, either the partner or the French analyst made a mistake. He’s very old, or it may have been the angle that he was looking at the computer in bed. Or it may have been the partner who misheard. Finally the Doctor answers my frustrated email with, 'You speak French don’t you? All the references are there on the internet, you’re much better at the internet than I am'. So we search again and find there is another word associated with this concept, tromperie, which means fake or fraud. We were getting a little fatigued with this search for meaning so again I referred to the Analyst and she said, 'Don’t worry, that sounds cool, like it’s not quite right'. I tell the Director and she says, 'That’s it, you got it now. That is correct'.