In City Lights, one of Charlie Chaplin's absolute masterpieces, there is a memorable scene (commented on by Levinas, among others) which establishes the link between this object and shame. After he swallows a whistle by mitake, the Tramp gets an attakc of hiccups, which leads to a comical effect - because of the movement of air in his stomach, each hiccup makes the whistle blow and thus generates a weird sound of whistles comign from inside the body; the embarrassed Tramp desperately tries to cover up these sounds, not knowing what exactly to do. Does this scene not stage shame at its purest? I am ashamed when I am confronted with the excess in my body. It is significant that the source of shame in this scene is sound: a spectral sound emanating from within the Tramps' body, sound as an autonomous "organ without body," located in the veyr heart of his body and at the same time uncontrollable, like a kind of parasite, a foreign intruder - in short, what Lacan called the voice-object, one of the incarnations of objet petit a, of the agalma, that which is "in me more than myself."
Further information about City Lights can be found in the following reference(s):
- Žižek, Slavoj. Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991. p. 75