Objet (petit) a

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Object-Cause of Desire

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.[1] 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.

Object of Drive

Objet petit a is any object which sets desire in motion, especially the partial objects which define the drives. The drives do not seek to attain the objet petit a, but rather circle round it.[2]

Object of Anxiety, Libido

Objet petit a is both the object of anxiety, and the final irreducible reserve of libido.[3]

Position of the Analyst

It plays an increasingly important part in Lacan's concept of the treatment, in which the analyst must situate himself as the semblance of objet petit a, the cause of the analysand's desire.

Surplus Enjoyment

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 further 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.

Semblance

In 1973, Lacan links objet petit a to the concept of semblance, asserting that 'a' is a "semblance of being."[4]

Borromean knot

In 1974 he places it at the center of the Borromean knot, at the place where the three orders (real, symbolic and imaginary) all intersect.

See Also

References