Continental Philosophy Review 46 (2):291-309 (2013)

Long recognised as a painting ‘about’ painting, Velázquez’s Las Meninas comes to Lacan’s aid as he explicates the object a in Seminar XIII, The Object of Psychoanalysis (1965–1966). The famous seventeenth century painting provides Lacan with a visual mapping of the ‘ghost story’ he discovers in the Cartesian cogito, insofar as it depicts the unravelling of the Cartesian representational project at the moment of its founding gesture. This article traces Lacan’s argument as he turns to art, linear perspective and topology to model how the object a persistently eludes the grasp of scientific knowledge. Following a discussion of distance-point perspective in Renaissance Italy and the role this innovation played in enabling distorted depictions of objects in space, I propose Henry James’s ghost story, “The Jolly Corner,” as the sequel to Lacan’s reading of Las Meninas. In James’s tale, we obtain a narrative account of what the figures in Velasquez’s painting might ‘see’ as they return our gaze towards us
Keywords Jacques Lacan  Descartes  Henry James  Distance-point perspective  Object a  Anamorphosis
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DOI 10.1007/s11007-013-9257-x
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Écrits.Jacques Lacan - 1967 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 22 (1):96-97.
Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought.Joyce Brodsky - 1996 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 54 (2):185-188.

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