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Jacques Lacan (1901 - 1981)

Related: culture theory - psychoanalysis - French philosophy

Lacanians: Laura Mulvey - Luce Irigaray - Slavoj Žižek

Jacques Lacan did for philosophy and language what The Residents did for music. The Residents placed a high value on obscurity. Lacan placed a high value on the difficulty people had understanding his language. If you're unfamiliar with The Residents, then this may be a Lacanian discourse of sorts. Lacan said things like "language points to a lack" which apparently means that if you're talking about it, you're not getting any. And you thought the French were always at it! Quoting Lacan might score you the most points in postmodern intellectual circles. The reason for this remains -- of course -- obscure. -- RU Sirius, Carmen Hermosillo 1994, http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/2.06/pomo_pr.html


Jacques Lacan (April 13, 1901 – September 9, 1981) was an influential French psychoanalyst as well as a structuralist who based many of his theories on the work of Sigmund Freud as well as on Ferdinand de Saussure's theories on language. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Lacan [May 2005]

The gaze and psychology

Jacques Lacan, early and influential theorist into child development, found the concept of the gaze important in what he termed "the mirror stage", whereupon children gaze upon their own image and present themselves as the ideal ego.

Other theorists use a Freudian perspective upon the gaze, identifying it with the same feelings of fear of castration and the talion principle. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaze [May 2005]

The Symbolic

In Jacques Lacan's theory of psychic structures, the Symbolic refers to the realm of language into which the child enters under the impetus of the Name of the Father. The child's world, which has already been transformed by the Imaginary spatial identifications of the Mirror Stage, now becomes bound up in signifying chains linked to a master signifier. Some leftover of the Real remains, however, unexpressed in language, and resists integration into the Symbolic. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Symbolic [Aug 2006]

Mirror stage

Jacques Lacan tells of the mirror stage in his essay "The Mirror stage as formative of the function of the I as revealed in psychoanalytic experience," which was published in English in Écrits: A Selection, first by Alan Sheridan in 1977, and more recently by Bruce Fink in 2002. Lacan first delivered this essay as a talk at the 16 International Congress of Psychoanalysis in Zurich on July 17, 1949. In Jacques Lacan's psychoanalytic theory, the mirror stage (le stade du miroir) is the point in an infant's life when they may recognize their "self" in a mirror.

When the child sees itself in the mirror, often propped up by another person or mechanical device and is able to associate the image with itself, it retroactively posits that before this autonomy that it now perceives, its body was in "bits and pieces." At the moment of perceiving bodily autonomy, Jane Gallop says there is jubilation, but it is short lived. As soon as the infant can posit that prior to this moment it was in "bits and pieces" it recognizes the danger of regressing to this earlier stage.

The potential relation between facets of the mirror stage and our relation to character archetypes has been explored in depth by theorists of entertainment media - namely literature, film (Laura Mulvey) and computer games (Mathias Fuchs).

For readings of Lacan's Mirror Stage Essay, see Jane Gallop (1985) Reading Lacan, chapter 3: "Where to Begin?" --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_stage [May 2005]

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