Jump to: navigation, search

Objet (petit) a

4,020 bytes added, 01:22, 24 August 2006
no edit summary
This term has sometimes been translated into [[English]] as "[[Objet petit a|object (little) a]]", but [[Lacan]] insisted that it should remain untranslated, "thus acquiring, as it were, the status of an algebraic sign."<ref>[[Ecrits|Sheridan, Alan]]. "Translator's note." {{E}} p.vii-xii</ref>
===Algebraic Sign===
The symbol ''a'' (the first letter of the word ''autre'', or 'other') is one of the first [[algebraic]] [[sign]] which appears in [[Lacan]]'s work, and is first introduced in 1955 in connection with [[schema L]].
It is always lower case and italicized to show that it denotes the little other, in opposition to the capital 'A' of the big Other.
Unlike the big Other, which represents a radical and irreducible alterity, the little other is "the other which isn't another at all, since it is essentially coupled with the ego, in a relationship which is always reflexive, interchangeable."<ref>{{S2}} p.321</ref>
In [[schema L]], then, ''a'' and ''a''' designate indiscriminately the [[ego]] and the [[counterpart]]/[[specular image]], and clearly belong to the [[imaginary order]].
In 1957, when [[Lacan]] introduces the [[matheme]] of [[fantasy]] ($ <> ''a''), ''a'' begins to be conceived as the [[object]] of [[desire]].
THis is the [[imaginary]] [[part-object]], an element which is imagined as separable from the rest of the body.
Lacan now begins to distinguish between ''a'', the object of desire, and the [[specular image]], which he now symbolizes ''i(a)''.
In the seminar of 1960-1, Lacan articulates the objet petit a with the term ''[[agalma]]'' (a greek term meaning glory, an orgnament, an offering ot the gods, or a little statue of a god) which he extracts from Plato's ''Symposium''.
Just as the ''agalma'' is a precious object hidden inside a relatively worthless box, so the ''objet petit a'' is the object of desire which we seek in the other.<ref>{{S8}} p.177</ref>
From 1963 onwards, ''a'' comes increasingly to acquire connotations of the [[real]], although it never loses its imaginary status; in 1973 Lacan can still say that it is imaginary.<ref>{{S20}} p.77</ref>
From this point on, ''a'' denotes the object which can never be attained, which is really the [[cause]] of [[desire]] rather than that towards which [[desire]] tends; this is why Lacan now calls it "the object-cause" of desire.
''[[Objet petit a]]'' is any object which sets desire in motion, especially the [[partial object]]s which define the drives.
The drives do not seek to attain the ''objet petit a'', but rather circle round it.<ref>{{S11}} p.179</ref>
''[[Objet petit a]]'' is both the object of anxiety, and the final irreducible reserve of libido.<ref>Lacan. 1962-3. Seminar of 16 January 1963.</ref>
It plays an increasingly important part in Lacan's concept of the treatment, in which the analyst must siutate himself as the semblance of ''objet petit a'', the cause of the analysand's desire.
In the seminars of 1962-3 and of 1964, ''[[objet petit a]]'' is defined as the leftover, the remainder ([[Fr]]. ''reste''), the remnant left behind by the introduction of the symbolic in the real.
This is developed furhter in the seminar of 1969-70, in which Lacan elaborates his formulae of the [[four discourses]].
In the discourse of the master, one signifier attempts to represent the subject for all other signifiers, but inevitably a surplus is always produced; this surplus is ''objet petit a'', a surplus meaning, and a surplus enjoyment ([[Fr]]. ''plus-de-jouir'').
This concept is inspired by [[Marx]]'s concept of surplus value; ''a'' is the excess of ''[[jouissance]]'' which has no 'use value,' but persists for the mere sake of enjoyment.
In 1973, [[Lacan]] links ''objet petit a'' to the concept of [[semblance]], asserting that ''a'' is a "semblance of being."<ref>{{S20}} p.87</ref>
In 1974 he places it at the center of the [[Borromean knot]], at the place where the tree [[order]]s (real, symbolic and imaginary) all intersect.

Navigation menu