Continental Philosophy Review 46 (2):311-325 (2013)

In order to avoid the reduction of desire to demand and to produce a theory in keeping with the insights of psychoanalysis, Lacan had to move beyond Hegel’s theorization based on recognition. To do so, Lacan had to come up with a new form of object, an object irreducible to the signifier but with the power to arouse the desire of the subject. The theorization of the objet a enables Lacan to make an important advance on Hegel’s theory of desire, an advance that effectively reverses the priority that Hegel establishes between the object and the Other. Despite the widespread association of Lacan with the signifier and its laws, his one great theoretical breakthrough concerns what remains absolutely irreducible to signification. My central contention in this essay is that Lacan’s theory of desire allows us to understand how singularity appears in the cinema, despite the medium’s inherent resistance to it. I examine this appearance of singularity through two filmic occasions—Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin and Michael Mann’s Heat. It is a medium in which recognition predominates, and yet the singularity of the objet a nonetheless emerges and animates the desire of the spectator
Keywords Objet a  Gaze  Singularity  Gesture  Irreducible  Subject
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DOI 10.1007/s11007-013-9260-2
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