Desire Knows No Bounds

Monday, May 16, 2016

In the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan, objet petit a ("object little-a") stands for the unattainable object of desire. It is sometimes called the object cause of desire. Lacan always insisted that the term should remain untranslated, "thus acquiring the status of an algebraic sign" (Écrits). 'The "a" in question stands for "autre" (other), the concept having been developed out of the Freudian "object" and Lacan's own exploitation of "otherness."
In 1957, in his Seminar Les formations de l'inconscient, Lacan introduces the concept of objet petit a as the (Kleinian) imaginary part-object, an element which is imagined as separable from the rest of the body. In the Seminar Le transfert (1960–1961) he articulates objet a with the term agalma (Greek, an ornament). Just as the agalma is a precious object hidden in a worthless box, so objet petit a is the object of desire which we seek in the Other. The "box" can take many forms, all of which are unimportant, the importance lies in what is "inside" the box, the cause of desire.
Slavoj Žižek explains this objet petit a in relation to Alfred Hitchcock's MacGuffin: "[The] MacGuffin is objet petit a pure and simple: the lack, the remainder of the Real that sets in motion the symbolic movement of interpretation, a hole at the center of the symbolic order, the mere appearance of some secret to be explained, interpreted, etc."


Comments: Post a Comment