Desire - Lacanian Theory, Kirshner.docx

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Western University
Comparative Literature and Culture
Comparative Literature and Culture 2125A/B
Andrea Allen

RETHINKING DEISRE: THE OBJET PETIT A IN LACANIAN THEORY – KIRSHNER  The objet petit a is a fantasy that functions as the cause of desire; as such, it determines whether desire will be expressed within the limits of the pleasure principle or beyond in pursuit of an unlimited jouissance, an impossible and even deadly enjoyment THEORETICAL BACKGROUND  The ephermeral, unlocalizable property of an object that makes it especially desirable  Desire can be defined by its infantile origins as the remainder when satisfaction of physiological needs is subtracted from the child’s demands for its mother’s attention  Because this promise is not attached to any clearly realizable or realistic goal, desire, perhaps like infantile sexuality itself, cannot be fully satisfied  Although intrinsic to the human condition, the process of desiring can be problematic and even totally blocked for many people  The symbolic order can be briefly defined as the collection of codes and distinctions embodied in language and culture, and Lacan insists that human subjectivity can be sustained only within the limits of this framework  What he calls the real remains outside of symbolization, inaccessible to thought  A symbol after all, refers to an abstract concept, so that language can only allude to a concrete external referent without totally capturing it  Because achievement of this aim is impossible, we su
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