Lacan’s notion of “objet a” designates the paradox of an object which gives body to a surplus over all determinate objects, an object which gives body to a lack constitutive of desire. What happens with this object at the end of the psychoanalytic treatment? The text proposes a parallel between the final moment of the treatment and the final reversal in telling a joke: in both cases, the sudden shift of perspective enacts what Lacan called the fall of the object, its change from a fascinating mystery to an excremental remainder.
In this article das Ding is characterized as the structural a priori condition for memory and, more broadly, for the subject in its desire. First, the fundamentally conflicting nature of the psychical apparatus as outlined by Freud in his Project for a scientific psychology (1950a) is examined. The elaboration of the opposition between the primary processes or the pleasure principle on the one hand and the secondary processes or the reality principle on the other is of crucial importance. The ambiguity that characterizes this opposition is related to the Freudian notion of das Ding as the residue of the process of judgement through which a subject tries to grasp the outside world and the Nebenmensch. Das Ding, as the primordial outside of the subject, is then characterized, with Lacan, as the centre around which the subjective world of the unconscious is organised but from which it is nevertheless excluded. Finally, the implications of this theory for the desiring subject on the one hand and for an articulation of the ethics of psychoanalysis on the other are addressed.
Discussing the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesj, a tale of the quest for immortal¬ity, and digressing from time to time towards the epics of Homer, the author searches for the essence of the literary hero. The psychoanalytic reading offered here does not aim to uncover some underlying truth about the author or his characters, but rather to elucidate the functioning of the text in relation to the reader. This functioning turns out to be multi¬layered. At first the epic offers its reader the possibility of imaginary identification. But it does not stop there: archaic heroism invariably turns out to be connected with the theme of death. Death, in epical context, represents the ultimate lack no hero can overcome. Faced with the inevitable failure of the hero, the reader also cannot escape from con¬fronting this lack. The positive note of the epic resides in the fact that it shows how this lack can be the foundation of the journey the hero undertakes, the story that develops around him, the subjectivity he symbolizes.
This paper examines the temporal and spatial properties of enchanted discourse on love at first sight. The encounter with the object of desire is almost always presented as a sudden, unexpected event. Based on Barthes’ Fragments d’un discours amoureux, Slauerhoff’s De verzuimde liefde and Sollers’ Une curieuse solitude, it is argued that the encounter with the object of desire is a mise en-scène directed by the subject itself. The specific modality in which Lacan’s categories of the real (the object of desire) the imaginary (the image in which this object is presented to the subject) and the symbolic (the discourse that gives the image its consistency) are connected in this encounter are demonstrated.
According to Lacan, moral sensibility revolves around the tension between the social necessity to symbolize and resistance against this necessity. This article introduces Lacan’s moral view via Goethe’s understanding of a perplexing passage in Antigone. In a remarkable passage, Antigone explains to Creon why she would not have acted in the same way for a husband or for a child or even for another brother, if she had one. Her actions depends on the significance of her blood tie with Polineikes, who is her last brother. After his death, no one can pass on the name of the family. Her devotion to the blood tie is socially infertile and isolates her from the community. This passage illustrates four aspects of our moral sensibility for Lacan: (a) Things that matter deeply receive their value from a symbolic system and only human beings care about non-natural meanings; (b) Although their significance derives from a symbolic framework, we cannot explain why they should matter so much and their meaning remains opaque; (c) Every individual is deeply involved in things whose meaning cannot be explained, a personal involvement Lacan calls jouissance; and (d) Things of deep significance have the power to isolate the individual from their social context. Lacan is Kierkegaard without religion. This article demonstrates how Lacan debates with Aristotle and Kant.