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Thing (chose) Lacan's discussion of 'the Thing' constitutes one of the

central themes in the seminar of 1959-60, where he uses the French term la

chose interchangeably with the German term das Ding. There are two main

contexts in which this term operates.

     1. The context of Freud's distinction between 'word-presentations' (Wort-

vorstellungen) and 'thing-presentations' (Sachvorstellungen). This distinction

is prominent in Freud's metapsychological writings, in which he argues that

the two types of presentation are bound together in the preconscious-conscious

system, whereas in the unconscious system only thing-presentations are found

(Freud, 19l5e). This seemed to some of Lacan's contemporaries to offer an

objection to Lacan's theories about the linguistic nature of the unconscious.

Lacan counters such objections by pointing out that there are two words in

German for 'thing': das Ding and die Sache (see S7, 62-3, 44-5). It is the latter

term which Freud usually employs to refer to the thing-presentations in the

unconscious, and Lacan argues that although on one level Sachvorstellungen

and Wortvorstellungen are opposed, on the symbolic level 'they go together'.

Thus die Sacheis the representation of a thing in the sym˛olic order, as opposed

to das Ding, which is the thing in its 'dumb reality' ($7, 55æthe thing in the real,

which is 'the beyond-of-the-signified' (S7, 54) The thing-presentations found

in the unconscious are thus still linguistic phÈnomena, as opposed to das Ding

which is entirely outside language, and outside the unconscious. 'The Thin is

characterised by the fact that it is impossible for us to imagine it' (87, 12 .

Lacan's concept of the Thing as an unknowable x, beyond symbolisation, has

clear affinities with the Kantian 'thing-in-itself'.

    2. The context of JOUISSANCE. As well as the object of language, das Ding is

the object of desire. It is the lost object which must be continually refound, it is

the prehistoric, unforgettable Other (S7, 53) - in other words, the forbidden

object of incestuous desire, the mother (S7, 67). The pleasure principle the

law which maintains the subject at a certain distance from the Thing (S7, 58,

63), making the subject circle round it without ever attaining it (S7, 95). The

Thing is thus presented to the subject as his Sovereign Good, but if the subject

transgresses the pleasure principle and attains this Good, it is experienced as

sufferinglevil (Lacan plays on the French term mal, which can mean both

suffering and evil, see S7, 179), because the subject 'cannot stand the extreme

good that das Ding may bring to him' (S7, 73). It is fortunate, then, that the

Thing is usually inaccessible (S7, 159).

    After the seminar of 1959-60, the term das Ding disappears almost entirely

from Lacan's work. However, the ideas associated with it provide the essential

features of the new developments in the concept of the objet petit a as Lacan

develops it from 1963 onwards. For example the objet petit a is circled by the

drive (Sll, 168), and is seen as the cause of desire just.asdas Ding is seen as

'the cause of the most fundamental human passion' (S7, 97). Also, the fact that

the Thing is not the imaginary object but firmly in the register of the reaL(S2,

l 12), and yet is 'that which in the real suffers from the signifier' (S7, 125),

anticipates the transition in Lacan's thought towards locating objet petit a

mcreasingly in the register of the real from 1963 on.

Kid A In Alphabet Land

Kida t.gif

Kid A In Alphabet Land Trounces Another Two-Ton Travesty - The Traumatic Thing!

It's A Freudian Thing - You Wouldn't Understand.